Reunited & It Feels So Good

Reunited & It Feels So Good

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Should I stay or should I go?

Should I go or should I stay now? If I go there will be trouble, if stay it will be double. One of my favorite mechanics in Fresco is the victory point track/progress choice. Just to refresh your memory (or if your were unaware) when moving your victory point token, if your token lands on a point that if already occupied, you may go ahead one or fall back one space. I think having that choice is refreshingly powerful. Do I want to play aggressively, or sit back and wait to make my move. It plays into one of my favorite games; the meta-game (the game beyond the game.) In Fresco, being the leader, like many games, affects your play style and decisions. I have played Fresco aggressively and in a one back/drafting the leader position. Surprisingly, my game play experiences were very different. Regardless, what I like best, is having that choice, plain & simple. Fresco's turn initiative/catch the leader mechanic is eloquently combined. As the leader, you choose your time to go to the market last but if your willing to pay, going first is often available. Thus being in the lead is not as punishing as other games ( you have some control.)

While moving forward or falling back is not (per game mechanics) a huge decision, it is a very suttle choice. I have prescribed to Greenleaf's theory of servent leadership for many years. Are you a leader or follower? The best leaders were/are also good followers. I am willing to be both a leader and or follower. Within the meta game, if I am the leader & you choose to bring me down, I am at some level controlling your game play. If I choose to draft the leader, I have more choices as I don't have to look back over my shoulder. Will I choose to pass you or lurk behind you??? Wouldn't you like to know.

This week's gaming achievements were quietly rewarding. I found two games while thrifting that I am excited to see hit the table, Rio Grande's Corsairs & Reiner Knizia's Dead Man's Treasure. I managed to listen to the most recent podcast episodes of the Dice Tower, the D6 Generation, and Ludology. During game night I played two games of Innovation, and a short game of Let's Kill.

Having recently played 7 Wonders, my feelings are reaffirmed that Innovation is (in my opinion) a superior game to 7 Wonders given the player interaction and level of gaming tension. Despite having several games of Innovation under my belt, I or we have played some part of it incorrectly. If for some reason anyone from Asmadi Games reads this blog, please post an FAQ. Within the rules, we misunderstood a rule in the Dogma section that states that when a card draw of a # card other than from a supply pile has run out, that person does not draw a card vs. the rule on the reference card that state when you draw a # card from an era/supply pool runs out, draw from the next higher era.

A short note about Let's Kill, it is very very silly. Our game ended when Andy used Gary Coleman as a weapon to beat to death a victim who turned out to be Elvis for his final point. The premise is that each player is a serial killer who is trying to amass the greatest point total/body count.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Reiner Knizia’s Great Wall on the Great Wall

During my recent trip to China, I hiked my copy of the Great Wall up to the Great Wall. While there, I played a two person game. While we were playing, a spirited card game was occurring among some local teenagers. They offered me a seat, but after watching several hands, I could not figure out what they were playing. Although when they played a card, they would slap it down passionately. We hiked the Jinshanling Pass which is about 93 miles north of Beijing. This section of the Great Wall is less traveled/visited by tourists.

Throughout our trip, I saw many kinds of games being played as well as being sold. After visiting the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, I saw Mahjong, Dominoes, and Chinese Chess being played. While shopping in the market that surrounds the Yu Garden in Shanghai, I saw various card games being played by the local merchants.

I was surprised to find so many games for sale. The costs were much less than my friendly local game store. Before haggling, Stone Age cost 128 Yuan which is about $22. It was hard to say if they were real or counterfeit copies. As a Sid Sackson fan, I was tickled to find a Chinese copy of I’m the Boss for sale in a store in Shanghai. In that same store, I saw a card game called Blitzkrieg Death Front. It did not include English rules, and it is not in the BGG data base so I passed. I can’t believe I did not at least take a picture of it. I did however find a link to it via Swan Panasian games;

In addition to playing the Great Wall, I also played a game of Hive at the Wall. We were able to camp along the Wall, and I was hoping to facilitate a game of Werewolf, but it gets very dark on the Wall after the sun goes down. What an awesome setting that would have been.

During the plane trip to and from China, my son and I played Mate which is a simple card game out of Sid Sackson's Gamut of Games. Sid considered it a pure information game.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Do you record your game plays?

Many if not most of us take pictures of family vacations, holidays, and special occasions. Gaming sessions can be just as (if not more) memorable than some of those family gatherings. So why not capture that special play of your favorite game? If have almost 99% of the time, recorded a played game for the past two ½ years although I sporadically began recording my played games in 2003 just after beginning my Board Game Geek account. I love the game played feature on BGG. For the most part, I only log the play and do not list any specifics including where, with whom, and out come. I have met and played with gamers who carried a written journal when they gamed. I've always admired a person who could journal or make use of a diary. I am just not disciplined enough to make use of a journal. Fortunately I have a good memory, and would like to share a few recent gaming memories. Gaming is a family tradition that was passed down to me by my parents, and grandmothers. These are not in any order.

1. I have taken all three of my sons to GenCon. Granted, when they go, it is a very different experience than when I go with just my buddies. I purposely pick games that I think they will enjoy. The requirements are that they must be easy to learn and teach. During Ryan and Hunter’s first GenCon in 2003, I convinced my wife to let me take Ryan to a late night game of Zombies!!! by Twilight Creations. Ryan is so bright, that within a few turns, it was clear that he just might beat a table full of adult men. Subsequently, a few opponents also realized this, and began to plot against Ryan. As they cornered him (cutting off his path to win the game) I drew a card which allowed me to switch player token positions. I switched my token with Ryan’s, thus allowing him a clear path to victory. Several of the other players were annoyed with me as I “kingmade” Ryan. Ryan had no idea as he was proudly sporting a new Zombie t-shirt.

2. While coming home from GenCon in 2005, Pat, Andy, Ryan and myself decided to host a winter gaming party (that celebrates mine and Pat’s birthdays.) Thus White Dragon Con was born. While not a huge event, we have had 20 or so gamers attend the past several years. The gaming swag is a pair of specially designed dice. During White Dragon in 2007, my father joined us and was enthralled with a dexterity game call Crokinole. It was my father’s last White Dragon Con.

3. On Thursday May 27, 2010 was the last day of school for my sons Ryan (18) Hunter (17) and Ian (9.) So I picked Ian up early today so that we could thrift for games, buy an end of the school year gift, and play a board game at home. Ian picked out Apples to Apples Jr. for his gift. While thrifting, we found 2 3M games; Stocks & Bonds & Facts in Five. Upon getting home, we played two games of The Lost World Jurassic Park Game. Ian managed to get three humans to the chopper and win while my dinos ate 9 humans! Playing with Ian while he giggled - PRICELESS. After dinner we played two 4 player games of Apples to Apples.

I had a good week in gaming this past week including Roll Through the Ages, Fresco, and 7 Wonders. My initial assessment of 7 Wonders stands, very little player interaction and gaming tension. I enjoy the game, but I guess I was expecting more. Given my tastes, I already know that I will grow bored of it. While another gamer and I were discussing this, I mentioned that I prefer Innovation to 7 Wonders, when a third gamer quickly stated his disdain for Innovation as it was a cross between Fluxx & Munchkin! I immediately came to it's defense, Fluxx??? I can see the long stretch of Munchkin as both games included a stab your neighbor mechanic. However, Fluxx?? Other than being printed on cards, what comparison do the two games have?

I have completed my assessment of possible games to take to China, and have decided on the following games; Yomi, Factory Manager, Cookie Fu, The Great Wall, Innovation, Irondale, Looney Pyramids, Let's Kill, Hive Carbon, NHL Ice Breaker, & Sixis. Plus I have the rules for two games from Gamut of Games; Mate, Blue & Gray. It is a nice mix of games that completely fits into a plastic tub.

Achievement Unlocked!

Check out episode #33 of this podcast;

Gencon 2011 Event Note
Are you a fan of or newcomer to Sid Sackson board games; Acquire, Focus, Can't Stop, Holiday/Shanghai, Buy Word, & I'm The Boss? If so, please join me in celebrating these wonderful games as I will be hosting an event at GenCon. Multiple copies of these games will be available for play. Rules will be taught if your a new comer. Prizes/swag for all participants. Game ID:BGM1119613

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why I Play Games

Why do I love to collect and play games?

I wanted to weigh in on this after having listened to the most recent Ludology podcast and as I am frequently asked by my co-workers and students. Geoff and Ryan (the hosts) presented 6 reasons that gamers play games including competition, as a social outlet, to foster the imagination, to learn & analyze new games, as a collector, and to learn about history. In the tradition of the Dice Tower (& David Letterman,) here is my top ten list.

10. To have fun.
9. To exercise my brain.
8. To assess & analyze the game.
7. While I enjoy the competition, I enjoy the tension of the game more.
"In terms of the game theory, we might say the universe is so constituted as to maximize play. The best games are not those in which all goes smoothly and steadily toward a certain conclusion, but those in which the outcome is always in doubt. Similarly, the geometry of life is designed to keep us at the point of maximum tension between certainty and uncertainty, order and chaos. Every important call is a close one. We survive and evolve by the skin of our teeth. We really wouldn't want it any other way.” George Leonard
6. While using my imagination, immersing myself into a culture or event that is very different than who I am or what I do & or learn about a time/event from history.
5. As a way to be with, meet, and make new friends.
4. It's a family tradition that was passed down to me. My mother and I played Scrabble and my grandmother spared little mercy when teaching me how to play Dominoes.
3. Games are a work of art. My game room is filled with 2D & 3D art the ties into my game collection.
2. As an escape from the day to day reality. Its an important part of my self care plan. My gaming group often tease my choice of factions as I often pick the "bad guys." When I play Warmachine, I always play the Cryx, undead, soul eating troops. My buddies tease me that as clinical social worker, my alter ego always wants to be the evil undead. It keeps me balanced, and keeps them guessing.

And Finally # ONE!!

1. As a way to spend time with my family. While my sons love their Xbox, they have also learned how much fun a good old fashion board game can be. I wish I could beat my wife, Tammy in Blokus.

An honorable mention, it fuels my obsessive nature!

My week of gaming was very good although I did not find any deals while visiting a few thrift stores. I played three different games this week including playing Hive 6 times and first plays of two games I had never played before. I was very fortunate to receive 7 Wonders from my Secret Santa this year, and I finally was able to play this very nice game. However, I have to admit that it could have been packaged differently; such a huge box for card type game. I have always been very fond of games where I get to build something. I have been very fortunate to play several “building” games this past 6 months including Innovation, and Irondale. Overall, I felt that Innovation is a “meatier” game than 7 Wonders, but the later will be easier to teach my 9 year old how to play. In addition, my 7 Wonders experience lacked any significant player interaction whereas Innovation has greater levels of interaction. 7 Wonders lacked some gaming tension that crave for and admire in many other games but it demands more plays.

My first & only play with Power Grid: Factory Manager was very enjoyable. The bidding, machine pull down, and purchasing contained just the right amount of tension that I really enjoy in a game. I came in second but I think I made a mistake that should have my total net worth about $8 less. During my second to last income phase I did not multiply my energy cost to the rate, 4 x 3, so I collected $90 minus 4 rather than 12. When I walk away from a game thinking about what I did or should have done...... thats awesome! It is a auction/resource management game. I honestly think that it might be a gateway game for much heavier games.

In two weeks, my 17 year old son and I will be leaving for vacation in China. I am planning to bring my new copy of Hive Carbon. What other games should I take?

Check out episode #33 of this podcast;

Gencon 2011 Event Note
Are you a fan of or newcomer to Sid Sackson board games; Acquire, Focus, Can't Stop, Holiday/Shanghai, Buy Word, & I'm The Boss? If so, please join me in celebrating these wonderful games as I will be hosting an event at GenCon. Multiple copies of these games will be available for play. Rules will be taught if your a new comer. Prizes/swag for all participants. Game ID:BGM1119613